Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Andy Crestodina – Enjoy!
There are lots of ways to measure results. There are just as many ways to compare ourselves and our businesses to others. Modern marketing has given us lots of new yardsticks, both for measuring results and for comparing. We admire, envy, and sometimes brag about big numbers.
The problem is that some of these metrics aren’t meaningful. They don’t necessarily translate into results. They’re also easy to fake. In fact, some of the most visible metrics are the most misleading.
- Twitter Followers
This is possibly the most visible metric in social media, but many of those followers are inactive or even inhuman robots. Followers can also be bought, so big followings don’t always mean big influence.
- Facebook Likes
Another metric chased by brands around the world. But Facebook likes can also be purchased. And thanks to Facebook’s ranking algorithm, a lot of likes doesn’t necessarily mean that your content will appear in people’s streams.
Even though it’s actually a derivative metric and isn’t a social network, I’ve heard people ask each other their Klout scores over beers at bars. For some marketers, improving this score is the main reason for interacting with certain people.
Some might have huge stats in each of these categories but still not have a clue how to drive targeted traffic or how to generate leads. In fact, it’s common. In Texas, they call this “Big hat. No cattle.”
So what metrics really matter?
There are marketing metrics that are truly important. Leads matter for lead generation sites. Revenue matters to e-commerce companies. Dollars are important, right?
Then there are the business metrics. Revenue, profit, growth, and headcount are the main ways to measure the size of a company, so of course they are relevant. But aren’t these ego metrics, too?
Sometimes, yes. Whenever they’re deliberately mentioned to make the speaker feel good about themselves or when they’re not relevant to the context, it’s the ego talking.
Just like those marketing stats, these metrics are sometimes misleading or inaccurate. Some profitable companies are deep in debt. Sometimes headcount includes part-timers and interns.
Capital raised is the favorite yardstick in the startup world. Some entrepreneurs are obsessed with venture capital. But ask your local VC, and you’ll find that funding rarely equals success.
Social Proof vs. Ego Metrics
There’s a difference between bragging and showing credibility. It’s often a good idea to use numbers to give evidence that we are legitimate. It’s called social proof, and the key is context.
When we submit to be a speaker, when we pitch the press, when we apply for jobs, those “ego metrics” can help. They build credibility fast. But social proof is posted, not spoken. When we say that we’re credible, it rings hollow. “Hi, I’m a thought leader with 12,000 followers.” It’s better to let the listener find these metrics for themselves.
For businesses, you can show off those marketing metrics with social media widgets. Visitors can see the size of your following at a glance, but they shouldn’t distract from the content. Badges and icons from awards can show off business metrics (such as the Inc 500/5000), but they should be subtle, in the footer.
Be humble. Be smart.
When we meet people, we naturally want to put our best foot forward, so we’re prone to showing off. We’re also easily overawed by an e-famous person or big brand.
Let’s resist the urge to blurt those numbers of which we’re so proud. In the end, it usually backfires and makes us look insecure. Let’s listen more than we talk and check our ego metrics at the door.
Andy Crestodina is the Co-Founder of Orbit Media Studios, a web development company in Chicago. He teaches content marketing both as a speaker and on the Orbit blog. He’s also the author of Content Chemistry, The Illustrated Handbook for Content Marketing. You are welcome to connect with Andy on Google+ and Twitter.